Dabbing is quickly becoming the newest, most popular trend in the cannabis world. Those looking for more potent, cleaner hits have found dabbing to be the answer.
But there are many questions around dabbing, especially for those new to it or who are considering trying it for the first time. What exactly does it mean to dab? One of the biggest questions dabbers have: are you inhaling smoke or vapor when you do it?
The answer may surprise you.
What Is the Difference Between Smoke and Vapor?
Before we can answer whether dabbing includes smoke or vapor, let’s look at what those two words mean.
Smoke is a collection of particulates that result from a process called combustion. When cannabis users smoke something like a joint, they end up inhaling charred plant matter into their lungs.
Vapor, however, is created through the process of conversion. A liquid (or a concentrate for cannabis users) is heated and converted into a gas, resulting in vapor. No combustion occurs, and no smoke is produced.
Because vapor doesn’t create charred plant remnants, vaping is often seen as the healthier way to consume cannabis than smoking a joint. Vaping cannabis is known for giving users a cleaner, smoother hit that won’t irritate the lungs. E-cigarettes were among the first vaporizers in the cannabis world and remain popular among cannabis users.
What Does Dabbing Mean?
Dabbing is more than a dance move. The term dabbing can refer to two things:
- It is the cannabis concentrate that is used (a dab).
- It is the act of smoking cannabis concentrates using a water pipe called a dab rig (which is considered a type of bong).
Dabs can come in many forms; the most common concentrates to dab include:
Concentrates are potent, containing high amounts of THC; it’s one of the reasons so many people are starting to use them. Cannabis buds range between 15 percent and 23 percent THC (on average). Concentrates, however, can contain THC amounts up to 90 percent. So, a little bit can go a long way in helping users achieve their desired effects.
So, Are Dabs Smoke or Vapor?
Technically, dabs can produce both smoke and vapor so that you can create both. However, when used correctly, dabs should only be vapor.
Many people are starting to dab because they create vapor, providing that cleaner, smoother hit people are looking for. But, when a dab is done incorrectly, combustion can occur, creating smoke. It all depends on the temperature you dab at.
It is recommended that users heat dab at a lower temperature, between 300 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit. This will heat your dab enough to create vapor but won’t get it too hot that it triggers combustion. Which temperature in this range you decide to use is up to you. You may need to experiment with your temperatures the first few times you dab to find the one that works best for you.
Now, you can create smoke while using a dab if you overheat your dab nail (around 800 degrees Fahrenheit). Some users prefer to do this, doing a high-temperature dab to produce a more intense high. But, when temperatures are this high, combustion is triggered. Your concentrate will likely start to burn, and smoke will be produced.
Though smoking at that higher temperature can help experienced users get the hit they want, it does take away what many would say the biggest draw to dabbing is: no smoke.
How to Dab
If dabbing sounds like something you want to try, we can help you get started. First, you’ll need some dab equipment. To dab, you will need:
- A dab rig
- A dab tool
- A nail
- A concentrate of your choice
- A torch
You can use optional pieces of equipment, such as a carb cap and a dab mat, but the list above includes the basics you’ll need to start dabbing.
Before you dab, you’ll want to clean off the nail. Do this by using your torch to heat your nail until it glows red. Then let it cool back down. This removes any debris left on the nail and prepares it for use. Before you dab, let it cool entirely after this step.
Now, to start dabbing.
- Use your torch to heat your nail until it’s red hot.
- Let the nail cool to your chosen temperature (about 45 to 60 seconds, less time if you are using a titanium nail).
Tip: this step will require some trial and error as you figure out how long to let your nail cool to get it to the temperature you want.
- Use the dab tool to scoop concentrates out of its container and place them on the nail.
- As you apply the concentrate to the nail, inhale slowly.
- If you are using a carb cap, use it to cover the dab. If not, go to the next step.
- Finish inhaling your dab.
- Exhale the vapor.
Remember, dabbing offers fast-acting effects. You’ll likely start to feel a difference after your first inhale. Know your limits, and don’t overdo them.
Dabbing is quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to consume cannabis. Dabs offer users potent and fast-acting effects that appeal to experienced users. Those new to cannabis may want to start with something like a vape pen before upgrading to a dab.
One of the reasons dabbing is so popular among cannabis users is that it is known for offering users a smoother, cleaner hit. This only occurs when users dab at lower temperatures (300 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit).
Dabbing at high temperatures (800 degrees Fahrenheit) may offer users a fuller experience, but this high temperature will cause the concentrate to burn and smoke to be created.
So, dabs are both smoke and vapor, depending on the temperature you dab at. But, when heated correctly, dabs should more often be vapor than smoke.